June 20, 2021

In US, Amazon eases working conditions after damning accident report

Amazon announced, Tuesday 1is June, an easing of controls of its employees after the publication of a new damning report on accidents at work in its American warehouses, known for their infernal rates.

The system called “Time off Task” (“Time not worked”), which measures the productivity of each of the workers responsible for sorting, packing and moving the parcels, “Can easily be misinterpreted”, notes Dave Clark, a director of the e-commerce giant, in a letter to employees.

Many workers and associations accuse this method of causing unnecessary stress, by not leaving enough time to go to the toilet, for example. “From today, the Time off Task will last longer on average ”, a promis Dave Clark.

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Nearly 6% of workers in sorting centers are victims of an accident

The Seattle group is again accused by American unions of not caring enough about the health of its employees, with the approach of “Prime Day”, a gigantic annual sales operation which requires each year to strengthen its teams.

“Workers at Amazon sites are injured more often, and more seriously than in the warehouses of other companies”, said a coalition of unions, the Strategic Organizing Center, in a report released Tuesday.

According to this study, last year nearly 6% of workers in the e-commerce giant’s sorting centers were victims of an accident which forced them to temporarily stop or take a different, less restrictive position. physically. “This rate is almost 80% higher than for all other employers with warehouses in the year 2020”, the report continues.

Making the time control system in warehouses more flexible should make it possible to return “To its primary objective”, who is from “Understand if there are problems with the tools people use to be productive, and only secondarily to identify lower performing employees”, assured Mr. Clark.

“We have expanded our dedicated occupational health and safety team to over 6,200 employees and invested over $ 1 billion in new safety measures in 2020”, reacted Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for the group, requested by Agence France-Presse about the union report.

Abuse of a dominant position and anti-competitive practices

Amazon seized the opportunity of the pandemic by hiring 500,000 people around the world last year to meet exploding demand. It transformed the trial with spectacular results, and continues to invest in all of its sectors, from its e-commerce platform to the cloud (remote computing) and entertainment (it has just acquired MGM studios) .

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But its success with consumers does not mask its disappointments with the authorities and civil society, which accuse it of abuses of a dominant position, anti-competitive practices and extreme working conditions. “These data should serve as a warning, they show how desperate the situation has become”, commented Debbie Berkowitz of the National Employment Law Project, an association that campaigns for workers’ rights.

In April, after an attempt to unionize a warehouse in Alabama – which would have been a first for Amazon in the United States – failed, founder and boss Jeff Bezos wrote: “We must do better for our employees”, in its annual letter to shareholders. “We are going to be the best employer and the safest place to work on Earth”, he had promised, referring in particular to measures already taken or being deployed to reduce the risks of musculoskeletal disorders linked to repetitive tasks.

Read the report: At Amazon, a union fight that can change the United States

The World with AFP